School’s were cancelled due to the winter storm last Friday, but school officials from Bristol Warren were warmly received by Governor Lincoln Chafee and Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, inside the State House.
Assistant superintendent of schools, Mario Andrade, and Mt. Hope High School principal, Don Rebello, were among the guests of honor who were lauded for the significant increases in scores their students made in the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) taken in the fall of 2012. In Bristol Warren, the number of 11th grade students who are “at/above proficient” in math increased by 12 percent over 2011 scores.
Mr. Rebello recognized Wayne Lima, a member of Mt. Hope’s math faculty, for facilitating the change in instruction at Mt. Hope. Mr. Lima stood among his peers from other school districts who attended the State House event, to acknowledge the accolades.
“It’s a perfect example of placing an emphasis on teacher leaders. There’s a gentleman whose superb instruction brought him to a point of leadership. Now everyone in his department emulates what he does,” Mr. Rebello said.
The assessment results are from the NECAP tests, administered in October 2012 to all students in grades 3 through 8, plus grade 11 in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Governor Chafee and Commissioner Gist released the results at Friday’s news conference.
“Students in Rhode Island are leading the New England states in reading and writing,” Ms. Gist said. “Our high school students improved in math.”
Over the past three years, the mathematics department at Mt. Hope High School has functioned as a professional learning community, focusing on assessments, standards and results. This approach to teaching was credited for the students scoring at the level of proficient in math 12 percentage points higher than the prior year’s assessment.
Teachers in the mathematics department at Mt. Hope High School changed their approach by using their common planning time to study the standards in Algebra I and Geometry and to develop new, rigorous assessments that require students to engage in more analysis and critical thinking about mathematics. The school, supported by the district administration, made this change because teachers and school leaders were concerned that 100 percent of students under the old intervention scored substantially below proficient.
Assistant superintendent Mario Andrade also commended Mr. Lima’s work.
“The rigor of the assessment didn’t match the rigor of the standards. There wasn’t a silver bullet” to match the standards to the assessment. “Wayne came up with a great plan,” Mr. Andrade said.
The resulting blend of “standards, curriculum, assessment and instruction,” said Mr. Andrade were the keys to improving the district’s scores.
“This was an opportunity to focus on data,” he said.
While Bristol Warren showed significant improvements in high school math testing, results for students in grades 3 through 8 were fairly stable, as were the results of the NECAP reading assessment.
“I am pleased to see the overall improvement in high-school results and our strong performance in reading and writing across all grades,” said Gov. Chafee. “Although I am concerned about our mathematics scores statewide, I congratulate Rhode Island teachers and students for the improvements made this year and over the past five years.”
Ms. Gist remained optimistic.
“As we move forward in our work toward transforming education in Rhode Island, our students continue to make progress, particularly at the high-school level,” she said “We hope and expect to see continued improvement for all student groups in the coming years.”
Overall, 72 percent of Rhode Island students in grades 3 through 8, and 79 percent of grade-11 students were proficient in reading
In mathematics, 61 percent of Rhode Island students in grades 3 through 8, but only 34 percent of grade-11 students were proficient in mathematics.
“It is important that we strike a balance and maintain high standards for our students,” Gov. Chafee stated. “We all have the same goal: to see our students succeed in school, their careers, and well beyond. It doesn’t do us any good if we’re handing out diplomas if we’re not competitive with graduates from other states.”
Below are the NECAP results for Bristol Warren students in grades 3-8, and 11. The chart shows the percentage of students at or above proficiency in reading and math.